COMMUNITIES likely to be most affected by the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station last night said they have to assume the project will continue - despite a major backer pulling out.

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"The chickens are coming home to roost"

Charles Barnett

It comes as Suffolk Coastal District Council conditionally agreed to support the project, so long as it delivers real and long term benefits.

Centrica’s decision to pull the plug on its funding for the UK’s new nuclear build programme has led some to question whether EDF Energy’s plans for Sizewell C can now go ahead.

The first round of consultation on its proposals ends today and last night those who have responded said they would be continuing along the lines of “business as usual”.

Terry Hodgson, chairman of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, said: “I don’t think the decision is much of a surprise. We half expected it because there had been rumours that Centrica were not happy about carrying on.

“It’s created an element of doubt but as far as we’re concerned we just have to carry on. The planning process is under way and we have to assume it’s ‘business as usual’.”

His comments were echoed by Clive Brown, chairman of Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council. “We can’t do anything other than carry on as we are and ensure we continue to fight our corner,” he said.

Crispin Clay, chairman of Leiston Business Association, said they were disappointed to learn of Centrica’s decision. However he continued: “I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. I’d like to think someone will be found to help finance that shortfall.”

Debbi Tayler, of the Four Villages Bypass Group, which together with the EADT is pressing for EDF to fund a relief road around the villages of Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, said: “Until the scheme is dead we will continue to do exactly as we’ve been doing. Our consultation response is in and we will wait and see what happens.”

Last night Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet agreed to support the scheme in principle - so long as its benefits were maximised, including a bypass for the A12.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for planning Andy Smith said: “We will demand there are concrete proposals to meet our district’s particular needs.

“This is a golden opportunity for EDF to put in place measures that will help preserve our unique environment and power the drive for more local jobs and better infrastructure and transport services.”

The second stage of EDF’s consultation will provide greater detail on all aspects of the project and should take place next year.

The French owned company has insisted that it is still committed to Sizewell C and that the project is “advancing well”.

In the last 11 weeks, more than 4,000 people have taken part in the consultation process and their responses will now be reviewed.

“We have said for some time that we were open to the idea of other investment partners and, as we approach our final investment decision, it is right to consider funding options,” a spokeswoman said. “The project is advancing well and has achieved a level of maturity to make it attractive to potential new investors. However, it is too early to say anything about the outcome.”

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